Wrapping up Step 6: Move It! Let’s be practical about being more active. You can’t go from zero to sixty overnight. If you sprain an ankle, tear a tendon, or break a hip, all is for naught. Instead, approach a physical change in habits with foresight and planning.
Practical Hacks for An Active Life
- Set goals. What do you want to accomplish with your new activity(ies)? Think about this carefully. Be more specific than “lose weight.” Consider a goal like “improve my endurance from 5 minutes of walking to 30 minutes” or “train to complete a mountain climb on vacation.” Without a worthy goal, you will almost assuredly drop out of an activity. If the end result doesn’t matter, neither will the preparation.
- Track your progress. There are a multitude of digital products to track your workout with little effort from you. Fitbit and the Apple Watch are two popular ones, but you don’t have to go big. Check out these suggestions, as well. I am currently using an iPhone app, Pedometer++ for tracking my steps. It’s free and seems to be fairly accurate. The downside is that my phone has to be on my person all the time. So, some days I look like a sloth.
- Dress for the occasion. Flip flops and pencil skirts are not appropriate workout attire. If you’re doing an activity that requires specialized footwear, invest accordingly. Good running shoes are a must for many activities. Or hiking boots for rougher terrain. Nothing has to be the most expensive, but it has to be comfortable and accommodating for your desired activity. You’ll get more out of it and be safer at the same time.
- Dress for the weather. Moisture wicking material is the greatest clothing invention ever. It keeps you drier, whether you’re sweating or it’s raining. On colder days, or if you’re doing something outside, remember your body temperature will affect your participation. Layer up. Don’t get too cold or too hot. Either extreme will not advance your goals.
- Start within your comfort zone. Start slow and remain steady. Improving your health isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. That means that you’re not going to get better overnight. Increasing your activity level to improve your health is a daily habit, just like all the other steps we’re taking to live better lives.
- Gradually expand that comfort zone. Increase your activity level as you can, but don’t go too fast. I’ve found that if I do more than I’m capable of too fast, I usually have to take two steps back to recover. I would rather take small, steady steps forward than not be able to get out of bed for a week. That said, I have days where I have more energy and feel like I can do more. I take advantage of a good day, but I don’t try to push too far on a day when I’m not feeling well.
- Realistically consider your abilities and act appropriately. Remember you’re not 20. If you’re recovering from an injury or illness or an extended period of laziness, don’t think you can jump in to the elite training group. Perhaps you played a sport in your younger days. Great! But remember, it’s been a while. Join the beginner team and brush up on your skills before aiming for the Olympics.
- Enlist a partner. Everything is more fun with a friend. Not to mention, accountability. Someone besides you knows when you weasel out.
- Stay hydrated. Back to step 1. Drink water. More than you think and more often than you want.
- Eat well. Skip any sugary drinks or snacks before a workout. They will not support your energy levels. Think protein shakes and fruit with peanut butter.
- Celebrate. When you reach your goals, take the time to relish in your accomplishment. Whoopee!
- Make a new goal and start over. Never stop. Once you reach one goal, make a new one to stay motivated.
This step is one of my favorite steps of all. I know it’s hard to stay active when you’re a busy mom, but I feel so much better when I have regular physical activity scheduled in to my day. And when mama feels better, everybody says “Amen!”
Do you have any practical suggestions for increasing your activity level? Share them in the comments.